CATSKILL — An uptick in littering complaints at Dutchman’s Landing has led police to increase their patrols, according to village officials.
The sunny summer weather and COVID-19 restrictions have combined to increase usage of the park, Village Trustee Peter Grasse Jr. said. And recent improvements at the park, such as the repaving of the parking lot, have renewed interest in the facility.
But the surge in visitors has led to an increased in litter volume, Grasse said.
Catskill Police made an arrest Tuesday for illegal dumping.
“This morning an arrest was made in Dutchman’s Landing with the help of a concerned citizen and a village trustee who contacted the police department when they witnessed the violation,” according to the police department. “It is only with the help of our community [that] we can make our village a safe and beautiful place to live.”
The department also issued a warning Tuesday regarding littering at Dutchman’s Landing and Elliott Park.
“Our Public Works Department is spending several hours each morning picking up litter in our parks,” according to the police statement. “The village board, members of the police department and Department of Public Works will start to monitor the parks and public areas for violations. We as a community have worked hard to maintain the parks and public areas so everyone can enjoy them. We are asking for the support of the entire community in keeping these areas neat and clean. Please do not stack your garbage alongside the cans and please pick up after yourselves.”
Grasse echoed similar remarks.
“We need people to respect the time and effort we put into the place and pick up after themselves,” Grasse said. “A lot more people want to get out and enjoy the park. We would appreciate it if people bring in from outside the park, they take [the garbage] home with them.”
Village President Vincent Seeley agreed.
“Volunteer groups, like Cultivate Catskill, work tirelessly to beautify our parks and streets only to have some knuckleheads disrespect their efforts and our community by littering,” he said. “Littering is not a new problem to Catskill although it seems to be more prevalent this summer. It is not just tourists; it is our own residents who have zero respect for keeping the village beautiful.”
Seeley said he believes the littering is a multi-faceted issue.
“Many businesses are either closed or working with skeleton crews,” he said. “I would assume that some of these staff members would typically be in charge of cleaning up. With schools being out, I have noticed more kids out and about. We need to educate our youth on why a clean community is better for them. Food service is really focused on take-out and that generates a lot of off-site trash. Somebody grabs a meal to go, sits down at the park to eat it and then just leaves the garbage on the table. We need to beef up our littering fines and will be addressing this over the next several weeks.”
Seeley called for a community-wide effort to tackle the problem.
“My call to our fellow residents is that if you see a piece of garbage on the ground, pick it up and throw it out,” he said. “When some people see garbage laying around, they feel like it is free game to just throw theirs down.”
The park has two trash receptacles near the Galley building, Grasse said, which are emptied by the Department of Public Works on Mondays and monitored throughout the week.
After being closed for the 2019 season, Dutchman’s Galley is rented by The Jefferson Cafe, and according to the contract, the tenant is responsible for trash within 20 feet of the building, Grasse said.
The village removed other cans that had been located on the other side of the Galley, near the parking lot, because visitors were piling up bags of garbage beside the cans instead of putting it in the garbage cans, Grasse said.
Some trash, such as pizza boxes, is too large to fit into the openings of the cans, Grasse said.
Grasse suggested one idea the board look into is placing trash cans near the picnic area.
“That may alleviate some of it,” he said.
The increase in usage at Dutchman’s is partly due to the village’s efforts to “spiff up” the park, Grasse said.
“It’s 100% better than it has been in the past,” he said. “DPW does a great job at maintaining the park.”
In May, the parking lot was repaved at a cost of $200,000, which was paid by the county. Although the village owns the park, Greene County uses the parking lot for many events at the adjacent Historic Catskill Point.
Work on the parking lot accomplished more than just filling in potholes. The designs, drafted by Creighton Manning Engineering, increased the number of parking spaces from 39 to 167. The new design also added 24 boat spaces.
The Galley building was given some much-needed TLC in anticipation of its new tenants, who are operating out of the building this summer.
In addition to serving Hershey’s Ice Cream, the Galley sells hot dogs, hamburgers and french fries. The village also created a new performance space for the Music in the Park summer concert series and other events.
The timber-frame stage was inspired by similar architecture in Lake Park, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The project cost about $50,000, with about half donated by the Heart of Catskill Association, Grasse said.
Heart of Catskill runs the Music in the Park program for 11 weeks each summer and is now in its 22nd year. The first Music in the Park show for summer 2020 will be next Thursday, Seeley said.
Grasse asked that picnickers refrain from having barbecues on the new stage and use the designated picnic area instead.
Looking ahead, Grasse sees more improvements needed for the park, he said.
“The boat ramp needs a lot of attention,” he said, adding that he will be contacting the state Department of Environmental Conservation regarding the ramp.